Switching to drinking black coffee isn't always easy. Many people are used to adding creamer, sugar, syrups, whipped cream, or a multitude of other sources of artificial flavors and calorie-filled sweeteners.
It's too easy in our society.
I mean, when you go to Starbucks, how many people order a black coffee from the barista? Almost none.
When I go, I always hear them shout out some long and complicated recipe/concoction before handing you the cup with your butchered name written on it. I am not sure what causes the confusion but spelling common, everyday names correctly seems to be a universal issue at this particular chain.
Benefits of Drinking Black Coffee
There are lots of upsides to being able to drink coffee black:
Eliminate all calories
- Weight loss is the biggest reason why people want to switch to black coffee. Coffee by itself is healthy as it contains loads of important nutrients and antioxidants. So why does it often get a negative rap in the media? It's all the &^%* we put into it. Let's take a 20-ounce Venti (large) white hot chocolate from Starbucks (1). Just the drink itself contains 640 calories - almost all of those calories coming from sugar and fat. The standard daily caloric intake for an adult is 2,000. So just drinking one of these will eat up over a quarter of your daily calorie budget! It's going to be near impossible to lose weight this way.
Enjoy the taste and uniqueness of the beans
- The addition of sugar and fat reduce bitterness but also disguise the true flavor of the coffee. To truly appreciate the natural flavor of the bean, we must unmask it. Drink naked coffee made with some high-quality and fresh beans, and you got yourself a ticket to flavor-town.
- Once you go black, your expenses on creamer and sugar will go down exponentially. While neither of those things are crazy expensive, where it really adds up is at specialty coffeehouses. A black coffee is going to cost you significantly less than one of those fat- and sugar-filled ones - a savings of about 40% or more per order!
- I don't remember how many times I brewed up a coffee at home only to find that we're out of creamer and had to make a quick run to the store. I don't like being dependent on things. Like an addiction, you can absolutely become dependent on coffee but when you scale it back to only coffee, you gain at least a small sense of freedom.
Convinced yet on why you should try?
I'm sure you're ready on some level since you've searched and clicked this article.
For me, even knowing all the benefits, I had trouble making the switch to drinking black coffee until I was older. At the beginning of my coffee drinking life, I, like many others, found coffee too bitter and couldn't stomach it. Adding sugar and cream made it manageable so I could "fit in" with the crowd at coffeeshops and still get my morning caffeine fix without having to resort to expensive and heart-fluttering energy drinks.
I did finally make the switch and often (not always) drink my coffee black.
Let's get into the top five hacks that helped me to go creamer free and learn to drink black coffee.
Five hacks on how to get used to black coffee: How to enjoy it
Here are the top five ways I've found to go from being dependent on having a sugar and fat laden coffee drink, to enjoying one "au natural".
1. Get Your Hands On Quality Coffee Beans
First and foremost, you need to have some quality coffee. Quality beans ensure it will have a smoother taste and flavor to it, and make it easier to stomach. It's really they key for you becoming a black coffee drinker.
What this means is that you can't be buying coffee grounds from your grocery store. More often than not, you're only going to get less-than-fresh and lower quality options there.
So, instead, here are your options:
- Google a local coffee roaster in your area. Short of sourcing and roasting the beans yourself, this is the best way to access fresh beans from around the globe that are roasted fresh inhouse.
- Buy quality whole beans online and grind them at home just before you go to brew a cup.
High-quality brands I recommend are (links go directly to Amazon):
Ideally, you want whole beans as they help keep your blend fresher. You'll also want 100% Arabica beans as they are much less bitter than the less common Robusta.
Do not underestimate this. This will make a massive difference. You'll be able to taste the different right away. If you've never had quality fresh coffee before, you're in for a treat! You'll soon develop your palate and taste preferences when drinking coffee.
In my personal experience, Kenyan beans were the first to give me an appreciation for black coffee - I got them from a local roaster who explained that these particular variety are fruity, smooth, and light, and have no aftertaste. I think the aftertaste is the key here. Talk to your local roaster and ask them to recommend a good beginner bean with no aftertaste.
How to make black coffee less bitter
If you can't find quality beans or if you're still finding coffee too bitter, add in a pinch of salt. Sounds crazy, I know, but the sodium in salt interferes with the transduction of bitter flavors.
2. Reduce the sugar and creamer/hot chocolate more and more
I started my coffee drinking experience with half-coffee and half-hot chocolate. It wasn't coffee as much as it was hot chocolate, to be honest. Once I wised up to the calorie content, I started to scale back to a quarter hot chocolate. When I got used to the taste, I asked for a "splash" of hot chocolate (I know, high maintenance).
I did that until I got so fed-up with my local coffee shop messing it up by either putting too little or too much hot chocolate mix in, that I finally said: "to hell with it" and switched to one cream and one sugar. Eventually, I dropped off both altogether. I did it slowly, but if I can scale it back, then so can you.
Or, you can go "Cold Turkey"
If you're more of the type of person to just rip the bandage off, then going cold turkey might be the right approach for you. Get yourself some quality beans (as previously mentioned), pick a day and just do it. Stick to it - eventually, your taste buds will adjust. Doing quick pours that give you the taste without the punch of a dark roast first will help here. You can then move to darker and more robust blends/pouring methods (see below). If you have quality beans, it shouldn't take long. Once you're golden, you'll wonder why you ever worried about it at all!
3. Try a Different Roast
You might just need to try a different coffee. As a rule of thumb, the darker the roast, the bolder the taste. This bold taste can be a shock to those who aren't used to drinking black coffee. Instead, try a lighter roast. Medium is standard in the industry but you can also go all the way down the light roast, which are commonly found in breakfast blends. It's going to be much less shocking to your taste buds.
4. Try With Different Brewing Methods
Everyone is familiar with the machine drip method - that's your typical Keurig, Tassimo, or office coffee maker. Less common are the AeroPress and cold brew. Let's look at both of them closer and see how they change the taste of the coffee
Aeropress - never heard of it? That's probably because this method of brewing wasn't invented until 2005. Lately. it has been gaining more and more popularity because of the smooth, clean, and flavorful coffee it produces. They're quick to use too, taking only 1-3 mins per cup. The downside is that it only makes one cup at a time!
For our pick of Aeropress, check out this one here.
That's right, as the name implies, this is a cold drink. But it's not simply making normal coffee, then dropping some ice cubes in it - it's a bit more involved (and tasty) than that. You soak coarse ground coffee (flavored or not) in water, in the fridge for more than 12 hours. The result is a sweet and smooth drink that you can add flavoring into but that can also easily be consumed black. If this piques your interest, check out the article outlining the best coffee for cold brew.
Bonus Brewing Tip - Use High Quality Water
This largely depends on where you live. I know where I used to live, all the tap water was hard which wasn't ideal for brewing coffee. As a rule of thumb, the ideal water needs to have three characteristics: it needs to be clean, soft, and free of chlorine. If you're lucky enough to live in a region with soft and clean tap water, you're already one step ahead. Unfortunately, though, many municipalities put chlorine in their water. That's where bottled water comes in. In most cases, bottled water will produce a better coffee since it is both clean and free of chlorine. Another option is buying large jugs of distilled water which will be better for your machine as well.
If you want to get deeper into how to choose the perfect water for brewing coffee, check out this fantastic article by differencecoffee.com.
Another tip is to clean your brewing machine (and I mean thoroughly) before you brew your first black cup. It is essential for getting out all the tastes from previous coffees that have been run through your machine. You can search your machine model on Youtube for instructions on how to clean them properly. Our only tip here: look out for those sharp needles!
5. Healthy Sweet Alternatives
If you're still needing some flavor, milk, or sweetener in your coffee, here are some low-calorie options or healthy alternatives to try.
Honey is a great healthy alternative to sugar just make sure you pick up a high-quality natural honey like the ones found through here on Amazon. Lower-quality ones may be mixed with syrup and you'll be missing out on many of the great antioxidants and nutrients. (2)
Some other sweeteners which also have lower glycemic index (good news for my diabetic friends) include but are not limited to: (links go directly to Amazon)
Again, please ensure you buy high-quality stuff by doing your research. Typically, you will find this from small-batch makers who do exceptional quality control. Stay away from anything combined with high-fructose corn syrup (typical of cheap, grocery store options, even ones labeled as "organic" or other catchphrases).
A tip I picked up from a friend was to always read the ingredient list (instead of going straight to the nutrient label); you'll be able to see exactly what it contains. Many times, big companies will add words like "organic", "natural", "grass-fed", "fresh, never frozen" or the like as part of the NAME of their product as a way to get around the fact that the product itself is actually completely artificial and not natural at all. To actually qualify their product under these special designations, a company has to pass their product through a rigorous testing process with the governing body that assigns that seal of approval. This can be laborious and expensive, not to mention unsuccessful, so greedy companies will try to avoid it whenever possible.
But this article isn't about that, so let's get back to coffee-talk.
Like honey, cinnamon adds antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients with loads of different health benefits. All you need is a teaspoon or two for a little flavor. You can add cinnamon to your coffee in a few different ways.
- Grind up cinnamon sticks with your coffee beans;
- Use a cinnamon stick to stir and keep in your coffee;
- Sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top then stir into your coffee.
Grass Fed Butter
If it's more the cream you're missing, try adding tablespoon of grass-fed butter to your next brew. Warning though: this is the most calorie dense option on this list. This is popular among the ketogenic diet community because of its high fat content.
Add Zero Calorie Flavored Seasoning
The brand to use here is Flavor God. They have several different flavors like Chocolate Donut and Bacon Lovers (bacon and coffee mixed together? sign me up!) but the best for coffee is their Buttery Cinnamon Roll Zero Calorie Seasoning.
The key here is to add it into the grinds before you brew it. It has the trifecta of benefits: good taste, all natural, and 0 calories.
These are all fantastic, tried and true alternatives to sugar in your coffee. Before you resort to adding anything in, however, try the coffee black first. This will give you a better understanding of the flavors you're working with so that you can find one you really like. And maybe, if you like it enough, you won't need any of these crutches at all.
You can also combine a few of the methods from above to increase your chances of a quick-switch success!
Hope you enjoyed my breakdown of how to drink black coffee and that your questions were answered in our detailed how-to. We hope it has inspired you to give the switch to black coffee a try!